Your existence as a Newcastle United supporter can never be described as normal but certainly this season is already turning a lot of expectations on their head.

A summer of angst and conflict as Mike Ashley and his minions bizarrely conspired in attempts to undermine the manager, has been followed by three defeats and then a trio of uplifting Premier League wins.

Nothing achieved yet but…doesn’t it feel good.

For me, the best thing about the three wins on the bounce is that the team have improved with each game, it might have been a three goal margin against West Ham but the next two victories have been much better and yesterday deserved a three or four goal win, against a team that arrived in very good shape.

We have all been impressed by Matt Ritchie’s energetic and productive start, Jamaal Lascelles bouncing back with a couple of match winners, and Ciaran Clark seamlessly stepping back up to the Premier League – but there is one player who is really making Newcastle tick.

Step forward Mikel Merino.

The win against Stoke was only the 21 year old’s sixth start in the top tier of any country, two for Borussia Dortmund and now four and counting for Newcastle.

NUFC fans already frantically counting down to the rumoured 20 game mark that would trigger an automatic permanent deal for the young playmaker.

I’m sure his form will dip at some point but Mikel Merino is quite clearly a quality classy player.

He might not play as far forward as David Silva but I think his cool head and excellent passing game show many of the same attributes.

It feels strange saying this about a player who isn’t even properly ours yet – but I am already worried about losing Merino.

In the Kevin Keegan and Sir Bobby days, you never worried about either manager failing to keep his best players, the exception being when Jonathan Woodgate was tempted away to Real Madrid.

However, life under Mike Ashley has been a decade of  worry once any player showed he might be a cut above.

The likes of Carroll, Cabaye and Ba all rumoured to be on their way, before the actual event happened.

I have little doubt that at some point in his career, Mikel Merino will be sold by somebody for £50m or more, in fact with the way things are going and the likes of empty headed right-back Kyle Walker going for around that amount, who knows what fees will be paid in the coming years.

Like all very good players, Mikel Merino always manages to find time on the ball.

Always moving, always able to shift the ball and keep possession, clever little tricks that fool the opponent, the loan player is already running Newcastle United’s midfield.

Even before the win over Stoke and Newcastle climbing to the heady heights of top four after five matches, Merino was already getting the attention of pundits/experts in a positive way, as opposed to idiots like Graeme Souness who was prepared to destroy the young Spaniard based on one mistake in his first ever Premier League start (at Huddersfield).

First step of course is to make sure this season is a success and a permanent deal for Mikel Merino is concluded.

Then we have the more difficult task of Rafa Benitez getting the backing to make Newcastle United as good as they possibly can be, with somebody like Merino looking capable of being a real leader in that.

We have already seem real missed opportunities at Newcastle under Mike Ashley, Keegan’s return as manager and the breakthrough fifth finish in 2011/12 being the main two.

It would be criminal if the same happens with Rafa Benitez and the players he has been able to attract and inspire, despite having to operate on relative buttons in the transfer market.

Here’s hoping. In Rafa we trust but it is the rest of them we have to worry about.

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  • Aaron505

    we should pay the 6m now! the guy is quality. the england national team could do with a player of his style: someone who can pass, can think, and can control a game. we only ever seem to produce physical players with either super-speed, super-strength, or unlimited running ability which can only get you so far.

    • Toonrobbybobson

      The lad has football intelligence of when to break the game as well. In this country we do something seriously wrong when coaching players.

      • Rich Lawson

        We buy overpriced imports rather than giving promising British talent a fair crack ?

        • Toonrobbybobson

          Pretty sure the current time we didnt overpay and they are young

          • Rich Lawson

            Sorry I haven’t been clear there,when I said ”we” buy overpriced imports,I meant the English game in general,(not Nufc) wasn’t giving a fair crack to homegrown players.

  • Jezza

    Let’s not get too carried away just yet. Remember Moussa Sissoko looked like a world beater after his first few games for us.

    • csh

      Can’t argue that fact, however this lad looks like he likes to put a shift in. A hard winter will show us more of what hes made of I’m sure.

    • MichaelMaximusMoose

      That he did, the new Ya Ya Toure

  • Mrkgw

    Have to agree that Merino looks to be one hell of a steal on evidence so far. Hopefully, Rafa can weave his magic and keep hold of him.

  • Steve Pearce

    Dean – only you reckon Merino’s worth 50m. Wait until December 26th when he is pitched against Man City to see how good he and indeed the rest of our team really are. Then if we gain a point or beat them we should pay the full price and sign him permanently. I honestly cannot remember a season where the fixtures up till Christmas have been so generous and that as much as our fine playing and leadership has resulted in our lofty position! Now I’ll hand you over to Lee Ryder who has locked himself in the Chronicle bogs after reading Moussa Sissoko’s name..

    • Toonrobbybobson

      Can only beat what is front of you. But we are by and large beating teams who we are against in the battle to 40. If we do well up to the big guns the pressure is off us as nothing will be expected and the players could rise to the opportunity we kind of a free roll of the dice. But one game at a time going after 3 points.. the rest takes care of itself. Concentration will be entirely on Brighton not whether the fixture list is kind or when do the big guns kick in.

      • Steve Pearce

        Quite right and this exactly matches Rafa’s doctrine. Given a good run by the time we play Man City we could give them a real game as we will certainly not be running scared of them and if our rapidly improving defence can keep De Bruyne quite we could just scare them into a least a point and maybe all three, But that is then and this is now – all eyes on the Seagulls and another three ponits on the road!

    • Oooh bobbi fleckman

      You actually make a decent point in that we’ve had a nice fixture list, that compares to 2015/16 where we had an awful fixture list and a gung-ho approach that meant we lost the winnable games (Wham away). By the time we went to CIty and went 1-0 up we were so devoid of confidence, we collapsed as soon as they equalized.

      Palace have this problem this season.

      • Martin Rooney

        The ref shafted us at man city

        • Oooh bobbi fleckman

          That Aguero fella had a bit of a say, we were great for 40 minutes in that game, then Aguero woke up and we collapsed, I don’t think we got close to recovering after that.

  • Whickhamrobbie

    negative again MAG . Merino is a loan player for now ,lets face it if he wants to move on like Cabaye,Townsend etc he will so lets just keep to the moment and worry about that later.

  • Leazes Ender

    You seem to be implying that the Rafalution isn’t happening and the old buy to sell policy is still there….. you are right of course.

    • Mark Davies

      You are correct as always. I still laugh at the ashley loving apologists who go. Happy clapping idiots. I mean who would have wanted to be there yesterday pretending to enjoy themselves. Its all going to end in doom and relegation and then we both can laugh at them and say we told you so.

      We are far better off not going and loooking forward to the upcoming disaster.

      Oh hang on, I was there and had a belter day. How was sitting and moaning on your settee you negative tosser

      • Geordiegiants

        What do you mean? “Looking forward to the upcoming disaster”. The whole club is a disaster and has been for 10 years, it’s just lucky it’s held together by a genius at the minute.

  • James

    If we want merino I’m sure we will be able to get him in the summer. Stop being negative where doing excellent at the minute. Trust in Rafa the Gaffa

  • James

    If it’s rumoured 20 games and if that is true. We have him in the bag.

  • Awaymag

    Worry worry worry.. you think to much wait until he is our player and its transer time, stress about it then if you must.
    I would only be concerned if he went we would not replace him. No player is 100% certain to ever stay at any club.
    For now he’s ours and he is doing a good job for us. So cheer up and think of something positive to write if you can…

  • Martin

    Why not just enjoy being 4th in the league with a team of players who give 100% and the best manager that we have probably ever had?

  • Dublintoon

    Dear god. This is the perfect storm. Merino about to generate a 40m profit. Billy beane arriving in english football meaning mike can now sack rafa and our extensive recruitment infrastructure and simply add a few sports direct vouchers to every player bid made by Barnsley. Then he just needs a lad to put the cones out and then watch the magic happen. Prob get bob moncur to do this now that his significant workload on the board will be reduced.

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    Everybody has a price & Fatso would sell him at the drop of a hat

  • No chance in him leaving this year, but if he continues this form we will likely sell him for any FAT offer.

    • Martin Rooney

      Hey that’s really clever

  • ToonNL

    stop calling him a 50m player, lets not draw attention to it!

  • Grahame Johnson

    The lads a bairn,we have to remember not to rip him apart during spells where his form drops ,Atsu is a example of a player growing under Rafa and making mistakes, Fulham, Birmingham, Sheffield Wednesday, Ipswich and Leeds where 5 games we struggled in or drop points in a short spell a run of games like that could damage a players mental state if we get on their back Galloway the young Everton player got hammered by the makems v Leeds and lost the plot and was subbed just after half time same as the young West Ham after his mistake his head went that’s when we need to remember the damage fans can do, as shown last season and this Ritchie closes players down and is a pest we know that so what a young lad took personal we see game after game

  • Martin Rooney

    Call the Samaritans

  • 1957

    It’s not always the club wanting to move players on for profit. Of the three players mentioned as being pushed out by the regime, Cabaye wanted to go and effectively went on strike for the first game of the season, Ba’s release clause was triggered but he could have stayed if he wanted to, the only question mark is over Carroll who appeared to be moved on by the club, although rumours of his agent pushing hard for Newcastle to accept an offer from Liverpool did circulate at the time.

    • Wor Lass

      Would you have turned down the £35 mill for him?

      • Geordiegiants

        He wouldn’t be worth that these days. So it was definelty a good deal.

        • Wor Lass

          Nobody in their right mind would have turned that down – but we all expected it to be reinvested.

          • mentalman

            Had the money been reinvested people would described it as an amazing deal

      • Rich Lawson

        Good money now considering his injury record.

  • GeordieZebra

    Utterly pointless to worry. I’d worry more if he was dog or we were losing games. Relax ffs, enjoy it.

  • Paul Patterson

    What’s everyone up in arms about? Every club outside the top 4 is vulnerable to having its good players poached. Sad but true. Until we’re up there that’s reality.

  • Wor Lass

    As they used to say in Glasgee – he`s the talk of the steamy! A great buy and not so surprisingly good. Plenty of people could see that he was a class act who just hadn`t had much of a chance because he had been at such big clubs with great players ahead of him. The opposition fans have really noticed him.

    Dean, ” … the likes of empty headed right-back Kyle Walker ….” What`s that all about? Is it because he had the nerve to be up-ended by Mitro two seasons ago? I don`t know about you, but I`d die to have a right back as committed, quick, strong and just plain good as him.

  • GToon

    He’s what we all hoped Hugo Vianna would turn out to be.

  • Marveauxless

    £50 million? Steady on mate, he’s only played 3 games. More Mikel Arteta than David Silva


    ‘..The likes of Carroll, Cabaye and Ba all rumoured to be on their way, before the actual event happened….’

    Aren’t you doing exactly that with Merino ?

  • Monkseaton Magpies

    The season has just started so just enjoy the season if we had not had two players carried off and one sent off against Spurs would have been on twelve points now have to take the Huddersfield result on the chin as excellent goal for them and excellent save from Ritchie. Jane Clark on this site talks a lot of sense very impressed with her articles.

  • Geordiegiants

    It’s no good worrying about any player. If they are worth a few quid they are sold, simples.

  • Albert Stubbins

    Im more worried by the fact that after forty two years of supporting the toon we’ve not won a [email protected]#**# thing!! Now that is something worth worrying about!!

    • Rich Lawson

      Indeed,I’m 50 years plus now,I never thought I might die before we won another decent trophy !

  • Jimblag23

    People need to chill.
    We’ve had a few decent results, which I’m thrilled with.
    But let’s not get ahead of ourselves or spoof our knickers about any players until they’re settled (or actually signed for us).

    • Rich Lawson

      Agree. Ffs,alot of people on here were dismissive when we signed him,now we’re worried about him going ! We have given him a chance to prove himself,he seems a very level headed young man who I think will respect that ?

  • David Kane

    If Ashley had divvied up the money he promised Rafa we could have done a Leicester this year. In a false position without a decent striker and left back. Ashley too greedy to see he has the best manager in the world at our club.